Keeping Tabs on Equine Infectious Anemia

With neither cure nor vaccine in existence, veterinarians and researchers must supervise EIA closely.

Keeping Tabs on Equine Infectious Anemia
The Coggins test, an agar gel immunodiffusion test developed by Leroy Coggins in 1970, has been used successfully worldwide to identify affected horses and, thus, help officials control the spread of EIA along with a number of EIA enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) tests. | Photo: Stephanie L. Church/The Horse

With neither cure nor vaccine in existence, veterinarians and researchers must supervise the equine infectious anemia virus ­closely to avoid widespread disease.

Microorganisms have ruled the earth since the dawning of time. Despite our valiant disease-prevention efforts, miraculous discoveries (such as antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs), and medical advances (including treatment methods), these wily microscopic monsters continue to evolve as rapidly as we find tools to fight them. The equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) is a prime example of this continual war between mammal and microbe.

“The equine infectious anemia virus is similar in many ways to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of AIDS in people,” says Robert Mealey, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

For example, both

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Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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